#WhatDrivesYou: Brett Walther
May 28, 2015
As Canada’s go-to source for home and garden décor, Brett Walther knows a thing or two about design. Specializing in high-end style on a budget, Brett shares his design strategies with 3.9 million readers as Canadian Living’s Home & Garden director and as a regular guest on CTV's The Marilyn Denis Show. Before joining Canadian Living, Brett served as the features editor at Style At Home magazine, where he became a familiar face across the country as a regular guest on Citytv's CityLine.
Read on for career advice and to find out how the Golden Girls set inspired his career path.
When did you realize you had such a passion for home and garden design?
Probably when I noticed that I wasn't paying as much attention to the Golden Girls as I was to their house. That set design pretty much cemented my concept of a dream home as a kid, and it hasn't changed all that much to this day. Like, Beverly Hills Hotel banana leaf wallpaper, pickled wood and pastels? Yes please. (I actually just hung this in the foyer of my condo. True story.)
What is one thing you wish someone had told you when you first started in media?
That there are no bad interviews, just bad interviewers. As a home and garden journalist, if you can't get what you need from a source, you're either asking the wrong questions, or asking them in the wrong way. I'd never consider requesting an email interview for that very reason. There's something lost when you don't have that back-and-forth interaction of a real-time conversation, and the responses you'll get rarely make for good storytelling.
What do you love most about what you do?
Watching a feature story take shape; weaving the copy, art and web extensions into a package so tight you could bounce a quarter off it.
What is your definition of success?
When the images you capture at a shoot look even better than the pictures you'd painted in your head; when you're so proud of a story you get that little frisson seeing your name in the byline; and when your connections score you sick seats at a Blue Jays game. (I love my #19.)
Dream dinner date with anyone, from past or present and why?
The late Dorothy Draper, who wrote the seminal guide, "Decorating is Fun," back in 1939. Although it's 76 years old, it remains *the* manifesto for maximalism, and is pretty much a guarantee that we'd have got on famously.
Where do you look for inspiration?
The past, and in particular, set designs from the past (not just The Golden Girls, either). The fact that a TV or film set can be decades-old, but still make me want to move right in—especially when there's an element of over-the-top theatricality to it—is a testament to brilliant design. Take the servants' humble dining room in "Downton Abbey," or Alexis's glammed-out cream-and-lilac penthouse in "Dynasty," for instance. Although they're worlds apart, they're both timeless in their own ways, and amazing jumping-off points for a decorating scheme.
How do you describe your personal design style?
I'm a classicist at heart, but I like to temper that with a bit of an edge. "New Curmudgeon," maybe?